Monday, March 21, 2011

Simple Log Cabin Block Tutorial

Here's a tutorial on how to make the world's easiest log cabin block.

9 different fabrics of your choice (see measurements in the instructions to insure you have enough)
a rotary cutter
a mat
a clear plastic ruler
high quality thread, either cotton or polyester (I prefer Gutermann or Mettler)
sewing machine
A 1/4" piecing foot is nice to have, too, but if you don't have one, mark your sewing machine or place a piece of painter's tape on your machine 1/4" from the needle.

The key to success with quilting is to make sure your 1/4" seam is actually one quarter inch. Make a test seam then measure it. If it's not 1/4",  adjust the position of your needle on your sewing machine or move your visual guide until you get it right. While 1/16th if an inch may not seem like a big deal, those tiny amount add up the more seams you make and suddenly your block is too small!

Always sew pieces right sides together.

Simple Log Cabin Anatomy
This diagram indicates the order in which the fabric pieces are sewn together to make the block. A is the first piece and I is the last. Please note this diagram is not to scale.

1. Start by cutting two (2) 2.5" square blocks from different fabrics. These are pieces A and B in the diagram. Piece A is the centerpiece. Sew the two squares together using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press the seam open.

A & B sewn together prior to pressing seam

2. Next, cut two (2) 2.5" tall by 4.5" long pieces from different fabrics. Place piece C facing right side up. Put piece AB on top of piece C, right sides facing, along the length. Pin the seams. Sew. Press seam open.

Magenta strip is Piece C - 2.5" x 4.5"

Please note that this photo is out of sequence, but it's here as an example of how to pin the open seam so that the fabric doesn't fold over when sewing. Stitch right over the pins, but go slowly.

The back side of the block so far (pieces A, B, and C). Seam allowances are pressed open.

3.  Piece D goes on the left side of the block. Pin and sew. Press open seam.

Piece D is 2.5" x 4.5" and is sewn to the left side of the block.

View of block before I pressed the seam open
4. Now cut pieces E and F. They are both 2.5" x 6.5" long.  Pin piece E along the top of the block, and sew. Press seam open.

Dimensions or pieces E and F

Sew piece E to the top of the block

Line up piece E and pin along the existing seams. Stitch.

5. Pin piece F to the right side of the block. Sew seam and press open. Are you getting the hang of it?

Piece F (yellow) is also 2.5" x 6.5"

6. Cut pieces G and H from your desired fabrics. They are both 2.5" by 8.5" long. Pin piece G to the bottom of the block and sew. Press seam open.

Piece G is 2.5" x 8.5" and is sewn to the bottom of the block

7. Pin piece H to the left side of the block. Sew. Press seam open.

8. Cut piece I 2.5" by 10.5" long. This is your last piece!! Line it up with the top of the block, pin and sew. Press seam open.

Piece I is 2.5" by 10.5" long. This is the last piece of the block.

Finished! Just pretend you don't notice that the dark green piece is a little short...

Viola! You've made a 10.5" square log cabin block.

Now that you know the process, the sky's the limit. Try making a log cabin with a 2.5" square center but all the other pieces are 1.5" wide. Or, make no two strips the same width and see where you end up. Play with prints, play with colors. Raid your scraps. Have fun!